Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cleared: Love Wins

Love Wins is the newest book by Rob Bell, a young pastor from Michigan. The book is basically a treatise on what could be described as a compromise between Christian Inclusivism and full-blown Christian Unitarianism. A few years ago, I would have been pretty dismissive of such a thing on its face, but I gave it a chance, and Bell makes a very compelling scriptural case for his points. I'm not going to attempt to summarize too much, but suffice to say that he and C.S. Lewis would find a lot of common ground on the subject of salvation and the afterlife, particularly as presented in Lewis's work The Great Divorce. I'm also not entirely sure how completely I agree. Love Wins has generated quite a stir, in any case. Copies are flying off the shelves of the bookstore I work at, and discussion online has already started to heat up. Read it for yourself, then grab your Bible and compare the verses he references in context and see if you agree with me that the man's got a point.

Additions and removals (list maintenance)

I'm making a few changes to my lists to more accurately reflect what I actually feel like consuming at present. The biggest change is going to be in nonfiction books.

Nonfiction books:

Pulled: Beyond Band of Brothers, Citizen Soldiers, The Sociopath Next Door.
Added: Love Wins (actually cleared; I'll post a review next post), Moonwalking with Einstein, The Language of God, The Working Poor,  Voice Training: A Primer for Better Speaking and Singing

PC Games:

Pulled: The Void

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cleared: From Paris With Love

Well, that was about the most formulaic action movie I have ever seen. The plot was a little predictable, and the early action sequences were a little dry. On the whole, It was okay, but nothing terribly special. John Travolta's character comes off as a little too psychotic for government work, and Meyers is a little weak in his over-the-top shadow. I think the character I liked the most was the stoic and incredibly skilled driver who made an appearance late in the film. (I can't believe that car never got a scratch!) It was fun, I'd recommend it as a rental or instantly on Netflix like I just watched it, but it's not something I feel the need to add to my collection.

Cleared: Dragon Age II

Well that was a ride! I just finished what is certain to be the first of several play-throughs of Dragon Age 2, and I'm very impressed. Dragon Age: Origins took place in an entire country, but Dragon Age 2 confines itself to the city of Kirkwall and the surrounding areas and manages to tell a very compelling story. Bioware made some gameplay changes from Origins and switched to Mass Effect's dialog system, but the feel of the world remains consistent. On the first time through, I just picked the default story assumptions and moved on from there. I think now I'm going to get a save of Dragon Age: Origins that I really like and import it, and see what that changes. I'd recommend this one, strongly. The game is a LOT of fun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Addition: Chuck, Season 2

I'm a little late on this, as I've already started watching it. One unit of credit has been deducted from the TV show balance.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Addition: Dragon Age 2

Yeah, I'm never going to get the PC games cleared. Anyway, I loved Dragon Age: Origins, and there's no WAY I'm passing up the sequel. I'll be playing this for probably the next few weeks. One unit of credit has been deducted from PC games.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cleared: Chuck, Season 1

It's not often that I enjoy a "funny" show. Most of the time, my sense of humor doesn't match up with those of the writers of comedies, particularly those that are intended for mass consumption. However, this was a wonderful and unexpected exception. Like Warehouse 13, which I also like, this show bears little resemblance to reality, and frankly, I don't care. It's fun, it's exciting, and it's even heartwarming at times. I stand by everything I mentioned in the In Progress post a few posts down, and I'm very much looking forward to watching the next several seasons. It also bears mentioning that the mixing of espionage and retail humor makes a really hilarious contrast. This is pure, unadulterated fun. I would heartily recommend this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cleared: The Losers

This movie wasn't as bad as Max Payne, but sadly, that's about all to recommend it. It swung back and forth between forced attempts at humor, pointless brutality, and overlong "character development" scenes that really didn't develop the characters at all. It felt extremely unpolished and worst of all, wasn't any fun. I could see some places where the characters had potential to be really interesting, but it wasn't realized. The action scenes were too few and not very exciting, and the film wasn't even resolved at the end, probably to set up a sequel. Oh, and special mention to the fact that the DVD has over ten minutes of unskippable ads. I wouldn't recommend this one. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the real losers are the people who made this.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Progress: Chuck

I started watching Chuck, Season 1 shortly after it was recommended to me by Mindtakerr (whose own backlog blog you can find linked off of mine). I am currently three episodes in, and I have to say, it has been "just the thing" so far. I was expecting something a lot cheesier than what I got, frankly. Based on some trailers and descriptions, I was expecting Chuck to be a guy who was a loser/slacker, his sister to be a "cool kid" and very haughty and mean to him, and Sarah (the female spy) to be a cold-blooded yet seductive ice queen who hated Chuck but took care of him out of a sense of duty. NONE of that has proven to be the case. Chuck is portrayed not as a loser, but as a tragic case. His sister loves him dearly and is exceedingly kind to him. Her boyfriend, while a somewhat stereotypical jock, is also kind to him. Sarah, while a very formidable and dangerous spy, is most definitely not an icy bitch. And the show is better for all of these things.